The April 2012 (15:1) issue of Visitor Studies, the semi-annual journal of the Visitor Studies Association, just arrived and it includes, “Motivating Participation in National Park Service Curriculum-Based Education Programs” by Marc Stern, Elizabeth Wright, and Robert Powell. It’s a rare examination of the reasons why teachers visit (or don’t visit) historic sites. For anyone that provides school programs, its findings provide some useful guidelines.
The study attempts to “understand why teachers at schools within the immediate vicinity of Great Smoky Mountains National Park attend, or don’t attend, the park’s curriculum-based programs.” To discover the perceived benefits and disadvantages of participation, they conducted a preliminary focus group with teachers and then surveyed 400 teachers in fourteen schools and interviewed school administrators. Although this study’s focus was on a national park’s programs for a middle and high school audience, there are some surprising findings that may cause you to question your assumptions even if you’re an historic site focusing on the elementary grade levels. Here’s a quick summary:
- Administrators are most concerned about Continue reading